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EAST CANTON-- A small gathering of people crowded along the community garden at the Foltz Community Center Sunday afternoon with a small envelope in their hands.
Inside the envelope was a monarch butterfly. Once they were instructed, each person opened the envelope to release the creature with its orange wings into the air.
Some flew right away into the air, onto the surrounding trees or into the grass. Others needed some help from those holding the envelopes before finally going into the air.
It was a way for the gathering to honor the ones they had lost as part of a remembrance ceremony.
The group started the program inside the community center as it heard a message from East Canton Church of God pastor Greg Smith. He explained butterflies are a reminder of human lives.
"The Bible says we are like grass," he said. "We are here today, gone tomorrow. if we are so brief in the eternal scheme of things, how brief is a butterfly?"
Smith later explained how the life of a butterfly is an illustration of spiritual life before someone is called to follow God.
"We are born into this world," Smith said. "We live, we consume, we survive, we thrive. Then by the creator's plan we are called to change."
The ceremony was significant for Smith as he said his mother had recently passed away.
"I don't want to say lost because I know where she's at," he said. "But she's no longer here. To each of you here, if you are here to release a butterfly in someone's memory, you have that same feeling don't you, that same sting of loss."
Following Smith's message, Dick Sutton played two songs on his violin. Each name who was being remembered or honored was then read before the group gathered outside.